Today’s Sportstat: April 29, 2019

 

Cinderella doesn’t always get invited to NBA Finals

One of the endearing aspects of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is that almost every year a Cinderella team or two finds its way into the later rounds. We love it when a low seed makes a run at the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, or beyond.

Cinderella, however, doesn’t seem to make many appearances in the NBA Finals. Now that the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs are complete, we see that all of the higher seeds defeated their lower seed opponents in the first round. Despite the seventh-seeded San Antonio Spurs taking the Denver Nuggets to a deciding Game Seven, the #1, #2, #3 and #4 seeds in each conference won their first round series against the #5, #6, #7 and 8 seeds.

With two rounds to go before the NBA Finals, the question becomes: Which seeds will we likely see in the NBA Finals?

To answer that, let’s take a look at the last 20 years of the NBA Finals (1999-2018). Last season the Western Conference #2 seed Golden State Warriors defeated the Eastern Conference #4 seed Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. It was the first year since 2012 that a #1 seed was not in the NBA Finals.

Here’s a few interesting stats concerning the seeds in the NBA Finals over the past 20 seasons:

  • Sixteen of the last 40 teams (40%) in the NBA Finals were a #1 seed. Fifteen were a #2 seed; five were a #3 seed; three were a #4 seed, and there was one #8 seed (the New York Knicks in 1999).
  • Ten of the last 20 Western Conference teams in the NBA Finals were a #1 seed (six of the Eastern Conference teams in the NBA Finals were a #1 seed).
  • Thirty-six of the last 40 teams in the NBA Finals (90%) were either a #1, #2 or #3 seed.
  • In the last seven NBA Finals, there has been only one team lower than a #2 seed in the finals… that was the Cavs last season as a #4 seed.
  • In the last 20 NBA Finals, only three times was there a matchup of two #1 seeds… in 2016, 2008 and 2000.
  • There were no #1 seeds in the finals in seven seasons since 1999… 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2018.
  • Thirty-one of the last 40 NBA Finals teams (77.5%) were either a #1 or #2 seed

So what does all this mean? Well, there’s a good chance that the #1 or #2 seeds this year (#1 seeds Milwaukee and Golden State, and #2 seeds Toronto and Denver) could find their way into the NBA Finals this season. Only three #4 seeds have been in the NBA Finals in the last 20 years, but this year’s #4 seeds, Boston and Houston, are particularly strong #4’s this season and could easily crash the NBA Finals party this season.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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Today’s Sportstat: April 25, 2019

TODAY’s SPORTSTAT-April 25, 2019

Packers top NFL with longevity of quarterbacks

Let’s start with a trivia quiz…

With the NFL Draft beginning tonight (April 25), there is a lot of speculation that the Packers will draft another QB, maybe someone they can work with to eventually succeed Aaron Rodgers.

Back in 2005, the Green Bay Packers selected Rodgers in the first round. Since then, the Pack has chosen five different QBs in the draft from 2006-18. Can you name the five quarterbacks the Packers have chosen in the draft after Rodgers? (Answer at the end of this article)

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers last season played in his 165th regular season game with the Packers. He became the third Packers QB to play 165 or more games with the team; Green Bay is the only team in NFL history to have three different QBs play 165 or more career games with the team.

There have been 25 quarterbacks who have played 165 or more games with one team. Seventeen of the 32 NFL teams have had at least QB on this list.

Here are the teams that have had at least one QB in their history play 165 or more games with the team.

Bengals: Kenny Anderson
Broncos: John Elway
Cardinals: Jim Hart
Chargers: Dan Fouts and Philip Rivers
Chiefs: Len Dawson
Colts: Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas
Cowboys: Troy Aikman and Danny White
Dolphins: Dan Marino
Falcons: Matt Ryan
49ers: John Brodie and Joe Montana
Giants: Eli Manning
Packers: Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Bart Starr
Patriots: Tom Brady
Redskins: Sammy Baugh and Joe Theismann
Saints: Drew Brees
Steelers: Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger
Vikings: Fran Tarkenton

Answer to trivia quiz: The five quarterbacks selected by the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Draft after Aaron Rodgers was chosen in 2005… 2006-Ingle Martin, 5th Round; 2008-Brian Brohm, 2nd Round, Matt Flynn, 7th Round; 2012-B.J. Coleman, 7th Round; 2015-Brett Hundley, 5th Round.

 

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Today’s Sportstat: April 22, 2019

Christian Yelich loves to hit HRs vs. the Cardinals

When Christian Yelich hit a three-run HR against the Cardinals on April 16, it was his eighth home run against the Cards this season in only seven games. Those eight homers against the Cardinals this year established a new record for home runs by a Brewers players against the Cards in a single season. The previous record was seven HRs hit by Ryan Braun in 2008 vs St. Louis.

Here is a look at the Brewers who have hit the most home runs versus the Cardinals in a single season:

8-Christian Yelich, 2019 (through games of April 17)

7-Ryan Braun, 2008

6-Christian Yelich, 2018… Richie Sexson, 2001… Khris Davis, 2015

5-Rickie Weeks, 2010… Eric Thames, 2017… Corey Hart, 2011… Bill Hall, 2006… Jesus Aguilar, 2017… Aramis Ramirez, 2013… Prince Fielder, 2007

Braun holds the Brewers all-time record for most career home runs versus the Cardinals with 25. It’s interesting to note, however, that Yelich, in just seven short months as a member of the Brewers, is already tied for sixth on this all-time list with 14 career four-baggers against the Cards.

Following Braun on the list of most career HRs against St. Louis: 19-Prince Fielder, 17-Geoff Jenkins, Corey Hart, 15-Rickie Weeks, 14-Yelich, Richie Sexson, 13-Bill Hall.

The Brewers play against the Cardinals 19 times this season, meaning that Yelich will have several more opportunities to increase his record of HRs versus the Cardinals. The Brewers and Cards face-off against each other in a three-game series April 22-24, and then the two teams don’t play again until three three-game series on August 19-21, August 26-28 and September 13-15.

Yelich became the 14th Brewers player in history to have seven or more home runs against one team in a season. The 14:

Eric Thames vs. Reds, 10 in 2017
George Scott vs. Tigers, 9 in 1975
Greg Vaughn vs. Royals, 8 in 1996
Prince Fielder vs. Pirates, 8 in 2010
Christian Yelich vs. Cardinals, 8 in 2019
Tommy Harper vs. Angels, 7 in 1970
Gorman Thomas vs Royals, 7 in 1979
Robin Yount vs. Orioles, 7 in 1982
Gorman Thomas vs. Red Sox, 7 in 1982
Ryan Braun vs. Cardinals, 7 in 2008
Prince Fielder vs. Reds, 7 in 2009
Ryan Braun vs. Reds, 7 in 2011
Corey Hart vs. Astros, 7 in 2012
Christian Yelich vs. Reds, 7 in 2018

Two more HRs against the Cardinals this season would put Yelich in a tie with Thames for most HRs by a Brewers players versus one team in a season… three would break the record.

Yelich could also make a run at the MLB record; Lou Gehrig in 1936 hit 14 home runs against the Cleveland Indians. That is the most by a player versus one team in a season. With eight against the Cards as of April 17 and 12 more games this season against the Cards, Yelich would need to hit six more home runs against St. Louis by the end of the season to tie Gehrig for this unique record.

For those who are interested, Reggie Jackson holds the record for the most career home runs against the Brewers. He hit 62 versus the Brew Crew. He is followed by Sammy Sosa with 44 and Albert Pujols with 42. Sosa holds the number one spot for most home runs against the Brewers in a season… he hit 12 versus the Brew Crew in 1998.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: April 18, 2019

A look at the last 10 years of NBA first-round matchups

This year’s NBA playoffs have begun and each of the eight first-round series has seen two games played. The Bucks, Celtics, Rockets and Trailblazers each have a 2-0 lead in their series while the other four first-round matchups are tied at one game apiece.

So how long will each of these series go? How many will be a four-game sweep? Will there be any first-round series that go to a deciding seventh game?

To answer those questions, let’s look at the last 10 years of first-round series in the NBA (2009-2018). There have been 80 first-round series played in the past 10 seasons (four first-round series in each of the two conferences each year).

Following is a chart of how many games each of the series went over these past 10 seasons. It is broken down by the seeded series matchups (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5).

 

  4-game series 5-game series 6-game series 7-game series
1 vs. 8 6 5 7 2
2 vs. 7 7 5 4 4
3 vs. 6 2 5 7 6
4 vs. 5 1 4 10 5
Total 16 19 28 17

 

As you can tell, 28 of the 80 first-round series (35%) in the past 10 years went six games, the most of the four potential series lengths. The fewest were a four-game sweep which happened in only 16 of the 80 series (20%).

Other highlights from the above chart:

  • The most common length of a series was 4 vs. 5 going six games. That happened 10 times in the first round in the last 10 years.
  • The most seven-game series occurred in the 3 vs. 6 series; it happened six times in the last 10 years.
  • The most four-game sweeps happened in the 3 vs. 6 matchup. It happened seven times.
  • Forty-five of the 80 first-round series in the past 10 years went either six or seven games.
  • Surprisingly, the 1 vs. 8 first-round series the past decade went six games seven times and even went the full seven games twice.
  • The 2 vs. 7 series had seven four-game sweeps; the 1 vs. 8 series had six four-game sweeps. You would think the 1 vs. 8 matchup would have more four-game sweeps than any matchup.
  • In the last two seasons, the first-round series went four games three times, five games four times, six games six times, and seven games three times.

If history is any indication, there might be one or two first-round series that end in a four-game sweep. More likely, however, is that the majority of these eight first-round series will see a Game Six or Game Seven.

 

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Today’s Sportstat: April 15, 2019

The Greek Freak, The Brodie and The Joker join exclusive clubs

In addition to sharing some interesting, colorful nicknames, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic each put up some impressive numbers in the 2018-19 NBA season. So impressive, that their stats from this past season have rarely been seen in league history.

Let’s start with Giannis, The Greek Freak. He became the ninth player in NBA history to finish a season averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. His season totals were 27.7 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per contest.

Here are the nine players with 25-10-5 seasons in league history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mil., 2018-19… 27.7, 12.5, 5.9

DeMarcus Cousins, N.O., 2017-18… 25.2, 12.9, 5.4

Russell Westbrook, OKC, 2017-18… 25.4, 10.1, 10.3
Russell Westbrook, OKC, 2016-17… 31.6, 10.7, 10.4

Charles Barkley, Phoe., 1992-93… 25.6, 12.2, 5.1

Larry Bird, Bost., 1984-85… 28.7, 10.5, 6.6

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers, 1975-76… 27.7, 16.9, 5.0

Wilt Chamberlain, Phil., 1965-66… 33.5, 24.6, 5.2
Wilt Chamberlain, S.F., 1963-64… 36.9, 22.3, 5.0

Oscar Robertson, Cin., 1962-63… 28.3, 10.4, 9.5
Oscar Robertson, Cin., 1961-62… 30.8, 12.5, 11.4
Oscar Robertson, Cin., 1960-61… 30.5, 10.1, 9.7

Elgin Baylor, L.A. Lakers, 1960-61… 34.8, 19.8, 5.1

It’s interesting to note that six of the nine players on this list are currently in the Hall of Fame, while the other three, Giannis, Cousins and Westbrook are still active.

Speaking of Westbrook, The Brodie, he had his third straight season with a triple-double in scoring, rebounds and assists. He finished the 2018-19 campaign averaging 22.9 points per games, 11.1 rebounds per game, and 10.7 assists per game. He is now tied with Oscar Robertson with the most triple-double seasons with three.

If we drop the numbers just a bit, The Joker, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, had a historic season. He finished this past season with 20.1 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per contest, and 7.3 assists per game. He became only the fourth NBA player in history to end the season with a 20-10-7 stat line. The others: Westbrook with three 20-10-7 seasons, Oscar Robertson also with three such seasons, and Wilt Chamberlain with two 20-10-7 seasons.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp